Portable GPS

I am currently in the process of trying to decide on which portable GPS unit to purchase. Preferably less than $2K. I’m in IFR training right now, so I would like to have one that has charts, weather, etc… Any suggestions/opinions would be great to hear.

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Ipad… With ForeFlight app, it runs circles around my Garmin 295. I haven’t tried the iPad Jeppeson app, but looking at its previews, it has radar overlays on the sectional that Foreflight lacks. I have plenty of links of in-plane usage of the iPad as well as the ForeFlight in the video thread discussions.flightaware.com/view … 488#121488 if you are interested.

Only downside to the iPad is the handheld GPS (296 and higher) has XM weather capability where as I have to depend on 3G connection which doesn’t work for me above 3000 AGL.

Of course size may be an issue for you but I like the big screen myself.

Foreflight did make an announcement that the iPad now has an external GPS antenna that probably will help the kerosene burners (portjet, take note!) that will perform up to 1000 mph and 60K. Don’t know about the limits of the iPad itself though.


Thanks Allen, I’ve been eying that little bugger.


After looking at the Foreflight website, it does appear to be a very good alternative to the traditional GPS units. I have a couple of questions:

  1. What style of IPad do you have? i.e. 3G, WiFi and what size hard drive?

  2. It appears that “realtime” weather is not available in flight, on preloaded radar images before takeoff. Is this correct?

  3. What is the battery life on your IPad while in flight?


Hey Jason,

  1. 3G 32 gig model is my flavor of choice.
  2. Without 3G service and above 3000, correct, no weather available on the iPad. Briefing you can retrieve offline, but I am not sure about cached images.
  3. Battery lasts 10 hours non stop usage so I don’t even worry about battery in flight as long as it’s fully charged before flight.

The selling point for me was GPS tracking directly on the sectional and IFR enroute charts. (you have to download charts prior to flight).

Weather radar incredibly accurate when I use it in the car and also when I did a low level flight (2000 AGL) picking my way around showers VFR.

Flight planning, check out the video thread, I have a link where I did a flight plan completely with ForeFlight and the newest release since the video includes where you can plan a flight without a keyboard, all by touch.

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I’m overseas and have been using a combination of ForeFlight, which has a mapquest style moving map which is the only map they have available outside the US, and Jeppesen’s ipad program which has IFR approach charts for whatever part of the world you need. The company I work for has to pay for them unlike in the US where companies like ForeFlight get the US charts for free then bundles them up and sells the service at a pretty reasonable price. I don’t use the moving map for anything except answering the boss’ questions like “what is that lake?”.
I still print IFR approach plates for the destination but use the iPad for alternate charts. During the winter I may print some of our common alternates just to keep the Chief Pilot from having a coronary.

My iPad is the 32G 3G version although I didn’t buy the ATT service so I have to either connect via my laptop or with a Starbucks/hotel style wifi connection. Free of course… :unamused:
Now that there is an external GPS available I wouldn’t spend the money for Apples piece of crap GPS (PoCGPS) unless you otherwise want the 3G service.

As you note in your question weather can be downloaded before takeoff, unless you are flying at very low altitude and within cell phone range you can’t update them inflight. My feeling is for the typical light airplane pilot if you NEED XM to stay out of the weather you shouldn’t be flying that day anyway.

The battery will last almost all day.

Of course NONE of the portable units are IFR approved for navigation.
Read up on the legalities of EFB’s and ask your instructor if the examiner will let you use one for your checkride.

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Just my opinion, but I would go with the tried and true Garmin 396/496 family, or maybe even the newer touchscreen replacement for the series.

The problem with using Ipad, other cell phone based programs, etc. is just what Lieberma pointed out. You have to have cell signal to recieve current weather. I can’t even begin to guess how many people have told me the #1 selling point of the Garmin is the on-board weather, and it works at any altitude. You can monitor developing systems and pick your way through them almost as good as having an onboard radar (you do have to be careful around rapidly changing weather as the Garmin products have a 5 minute refresh rate for weather).

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P.S. Weather on ForeFlight is cached for about a day.

Otherwise I can’t argue with what davysims says, XM is great if you are in a part of the country with lots of nasty weather. Like Mississippi. The cost is higher than iPad but having said that I’ve never used XM since I fly an old steam gauge airplane with radar primarily outside the US. I guess you have to decide if having XM or not would make a difference in whether or not you would fly that day.

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Agree. Stick with an aviation GPS. Something with a mount too.

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People who flew with LORAN probably thought the same thing transitioning to GPS :wink:

I’m glad to see Garmin and other aviation products being a give a run for their money at an affordable “maintenance rate” with the advent of the iPad and phone. Just hoping XM jumps on the bandwagon for an app for weather.

newskyproducts.com/ looks nice (and secure) that I would get for myself if I was flying as frequently as I did in the past.

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Allen we need a video. Come on man… show me so I can buy one

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:smiley: :smiley:

Right behind my emergency descents!

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Hey Allen, try World Street on your iPad. It adds a 3D look at regular street maps and even has airports. The only thing it doesn’t do is add height to buildings. Scroll to a mountain airport and move around to see the mountains and valleys, almost like being there.

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Too friggin cool even in the flatlands of MS. Nicer then the standard Google maps since you can pan and tilt which adds this as another flight planning tool in my tool kit to an unknown airport. Can’t beat the “final approach preview” below :slight_smile:

For those interested in this free program (small ads) look for route3d World Street in the app store. There will be a little learning curve if you don’t use the help guide.

Final approach into KJAN Photo View**

Final approach into KJAN Topo View

Final approach into KJAN street view

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There’s a help guide?

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Yep, upper left corner tap the up arrow, you can see it in my pic. That’s how I also got to the map layers.

Oh that help guide, I thought maybe there was a real PDF guide that I missed. Have you “gone” to one of the mountain airports and looked around yet?

Nah, ramped it up a little :stuck_out_tongue: doing low level passes in the canyons in Laramie WY.

Had fun virtual flying my own pattern at KJAN taking off on 34L and landing on 16L. Once you get used to the navigation icons, it’s a snap to move around.

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The AvMap EKP IV is a portable navigation systems for the aeronautical market. User friendly and easy to use you can enter all acft info and can be used with a knee pad or can be monted with a Yoke attachment . You can have an update to have weather satellite and and TCAs ($$$$). I have been using it since 2006 and will continue to do so.

Add can be view at www.avmap.it

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There is a very good comparison of iPad and Skypad at the Seattle Avionics website… It is marketing, but the info is excellent and leaves you with a lot more understanding than when you started…

Note: I have no vested interest in Seattle Avionics, but the data is very good.

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